Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia with an estimated 90.5 million inhabitants as of 2014. Over the last 25 years, Vietnam has transformed into a more market-oriented economy. Due to a long period of stable and high growth, the national poverty rate fell from over 70 per cent in the mid-1980s to below 10 per cent in 2011. However, poverty remains an everyday reality among many ethnic minority people, elderly and female-headed households; most of them live in inland and mountainous regions of the country.
Oxfam in Vietnam
Throughout the past 25 years, Oxfam has supported over 500 projects in Vietnam, which has directly benefited more than 850,000 poor people in the country. Oxfam’s work in Vietnam includes policy research, campaigning and advocacy that seek policy change on such issues as fair trade, food security, gender equality, and land governance. As of 2014, Vietnam remains one of Oxfam Hong Kong’s largest country programmes (second only to China) in terms of financial commitments: in 2013/14, Oxfam Hong Kong contributed over US$1.6 million to programmes in Vietnam.
- Population: 94 million (July 2015 est.)
- Human Development Index: 116 (among 188 countries)
- GDP per capita: US$5,700 (2014 est.)
- Population below poverty line: 11.3% (2012 est.)
Sources: CIA – The World Factbook (as of 30 December, 2015), Human Development Report 2015
Our work's focus
Oxfam aims to improve rural livelihoods by promoting a pro-poor market. We increase the incomes of farmers who live in poverty -particularly women and ethnic minorities - through enhancing their access and bargaining power on market. We also build up their capacity, use market-based solutions, and work at every stage of the value chain to reduce costs and risks, and improve opportunities and access to resources and benefits. Our projects include providing loans and new designs for ethnic minority handicrafts, and an organisation of interest groups to increase their bargaining power in the rattan-bamboo market.
Besides responding to major humanitarian crises in Vietnam, Oxfam also works on building up resilience and capacity to secure the livelihoods of women, men and children in vulnerable areas of Vietnam. We raise awareness on risks and offer opportunities for adaptation to climate change and disaster. We also facilitate access to information, innovation, and knowledge. Our projects include a community-based approach to reduce disaster risks as well as preventive measures to prepare for disaster.
Photo: Oxfam supports farmers to grow new varieties of crops that can be harvested before the flood season.
Ensuring that women and men benefit equally from our work is a vital part of what we do. That is why all of our projects in Vietnam are designed to ensure both women and men enjoy equal rights, opportunities, and outcomes. We focus on promoting social capital, collective actions, and representative bodies for excluded and vulnerable women, particularly on issues related to their livelihood resources. Our projects also take an inclusive approach to ending domestic violence against women, and empower women to be involved in decision-making processes.
Impact of Our Work
‘Thanks to the project, in any weather condition, we still have a steady income. We do not have to worry about daily meals anymore, and no longer farm. Our health is not good enough anymore to work in paddy fields. I am so relieved that we can earn enough money to buy rice by making chairs.’
Mr. Thanh, a participant of the Oxfam’s Farmers Interest Group in handicraft making.
Mr. Thanh, and his wife used to be one of the poorest among the handicraft producers. Their only income comes from the rattan chairs Mr. Thanh makes. However, their production yielded an unstable income of around 250,000 VND per month. He then decided to join an Oxfam-supported farmer interest group with other villagers to expand their rattan bamboo value chain; this initiative helped to improve the quality of their products and enhance their management capacity. Mr. Thanh now earns over 1 million VND a month. He feels proud to belong to a group that efficiently manufactures and sells products that represent their cultural identity.